For Approval: IPA Font License v1.0

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Thu Feb 12 19:40:57 UTC 2009

yuko.noguchi at wrote:
> This is a small example of what is a very real problem.  It is often
> very difficult to modify font program without making such mistakes when
> there are many similar Kanji characters.

You're basically saying that the font "source code" is very complex, and
small modifications can introduce "bugs".  I am sure you are correct,
but this is true for much open source software.  I understand that you
don't want buggy derived versions associated with your original font.
However, this is addressed by "The license may require derived works to
carry a different name or version number from the original software."
You can require new fonts have a totally different name and version,
which means no one should confuse it with the original.

> we are keen and willing to do the work to create a license that meet
> both (i) IPA's belief in this Difference File system as preserving integrity
> and (ii) the OSD requirements.

As the OSD says (and Bruce pointed out), "The license may restrict
source-code from being distributed in modified form" if patches are
provided.  However, it does not allow binary distribution to be
restricted in the same way.

Of course, it is discouraged to use this provision even for source code,
and most licenses do not.

> We are informed by IPA that the combination of the Original FP and the
> Difference File is an extremely easy operation which is fully automated
> if  authorized by the user.  This should therefore present no bar to
> end-users.

It does in fact make things more difficult for end users. In most cases,
 fonts can be installed simply by drag-and-drop, but the difference file
adds an additional step that /will/ result in some end users giving up
on installing derived fonts.

> 3.  Conversion to another file format.
> IPA considers that a difference file system can easily be applied to the
> Original FP to  convert the font file to another file format.

That is in theory true, but in practice it doesn't make much sense to
have a diff file e.g. between SVG and TrueType.

Matt Flaschen

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